In compliance with an agreement between the US Department of Justice and the Albuquerque Police Department, officials have begun the process of rewriting a number of department policies—including its use-of-force policy.
Nearly four years ago, the DOJ found that APD officers showed a pattern of using excessive force. It reached an agreement with the city which required an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the police department in key areas, including its use-of-force policy. In 2016 the department introduced a new policy, but officials say its vague language has confused officers. To battle this, the department decided to create new guidelines with clarity in mind and an emphasis on de-escalation. At a meeting of the Police Oversight Board last week, a draft of the new policy was introduced. The draft is available on the city's website.
The department will be rewriting a number of policies in the coming months, reports the Albuquerque Journal, including those regarding intermediate weapons, de-escalation and use-of-force reporting. The new use-of-force policy is scheduled to go before the independent monitor overseeing reform efforts near the end of July. It could be implemented by September.
New Team at Los Alamos Lab
Energy officials announced earlier this month that Los Alamos National Laboratory will soon be under new management.
The lab is currently under management of Los Alamos National Security and has faced numerous safety violations in recent years. Last week, an independent safety panel reported that radioactive contamination was found on a worker’s hands and in other areas around the lab, and according to the Las Cruces Sun News, there have been at least six contamination events at Los Alamos since January.
In a press release published earlier this month, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it had awarded a contract to Triad National Security to take over management of the lab. According to Bloomberg, the new contract is performance-based and requires improvements to safety culture in the lab.
The current contract with Los Alamos National Security—which expires Sept. 30—will be extended four months to allow for a transition period.
Feds to Investigate Missing ART Audits
Federal Transit Authority officials are reviewing a report that claims critical city inspection documents relating to the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project are incomplete or missing altogether.
Earlier this month a 73-page report was released by the city's Inspector General's office criticizing the city's management of ART. The report raised concerns over whether audits conducted by city employees and required for federal funding were accurate. It also found that many of the inspection documents needed to comply with the Buy America Act were either missing or had never existed in the first place.
How the OIG report will affect the city's chances of receiving federal funds from the FTA is unclear. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the FTA is now reviewing the report and is waiting on recommendations from its legal department.